My Favorite Lens… Off Camera Flash… Meghan + Gareth | Engagement

This is going to be a more technical post. Hopefully photographers out there will appreciate this as well as those that don’t understand photography from a technical stand point.

One of my biggest influences has been Zack Arias. I first found out about him while I was researching seamless white background setups to use for a fun photoshoot that I did with a bunch of friends back in 2008. Little did I know that his “one light” concept would be something that I would embrace full on and learn to use in a way that would not only make him proud but also infuse a bit of me into the pictures I took as well. Zack, if you happen to read this, I hope I’ve done you proud.

The concept of the “one light” comes from using one flash off camera. It doesn’t matter how it’s used… in front, behind, from the side, from above… from below (yes, he uses 3 flashes from underneath the table – check it out)… shot through an umbrella, a softbox, a gridspot, naked bare flash… whatever!

While a lot of photographers will prefer natural light over artificial flash light… I embrace both. Flash has this magical ability to turn an other wise boring picture into a super dramatic one.

Picture 1: No flash. ISO 320. 1/200s. f/4.0. 35mm. Not a bad picture at all. The sun was behind me so I was able to retain some of the detail in the clouds behind my subjects.

knoxville wedding photography

Picture 2: Same location. I moved behind them and added one light. ISO 320. 1/200s. f/16. 35mm. Super. Dramatic.

knoxville wedding photography

One of things that flash allows you to do is to get a lot of the detail in the clouds that you tend to lose or the color in the sky that gets blown out when you try to properly expose for your subject. It’s a necessary evil that we, as photographers, have to deal with. How we choose to deal with it will differ from photographer to photographer. While some prefer to blow out the sky (see Jasmine Star – uber fabulous photographer) others try to keep the detail in the sky by using flash or shooting with the sun behind them (but sometimes this will cause squinty eyes and make your subjects go blind – permanently).

By adding a bit of flash, you can save your subjects from going blind (well the flash may blind them but it’s only temporary) and creating some really cool images.

One more example:

Picture 1: ISO 160. 1/1250s. f/2.0. 35mm. Notice how the sky is completely white. Time – 2:15PM in the afternoon.

knoxville wedding photography

Picture 2: ISO 50. 1/200s. f/16.0. 35mm. Bring that sky back! 🙂 And this was shot at 2:17PM. This one was a little trickier but you get the idea…

knoxville wedding photography

And yes… I shoot 35mm… 90% of the time. I love it. love it. love it. If I had to sell all my lenses and keep just one lens, it would be the 35mm. It’s a super versatile lens that allows you shoot in tight areas as well as schooch back far enough to capture a lot of the landscape without needing a super wide lens. Distortion is minimal and can easily be controlled.

Okay… technical rant over… bring on the pictures!

This engagement session was shot at Cades Cove where Meghan and Gareth got engaged. We had a ton of fun and found some really cool locations around Cades Cove to shoot. But the best part of the afternoon was listening to Gareth talk. Did I mention he’s from across the pond and has an accent? Yeah… he’s one of those guys that has that super cool British accent that you could listen to all afternoon and not get bored to death… I’m looking forward to hearing him talk more on their wedding day. I can say that, right? 🙂

knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography

So if you’ve ever been to Cades Cove you know that people drive around the loop and then slow down when they see some sort of animal… well all these cars were slowing down to see what we were doing so Gareth decided to be a bear. This is why you do not feed the bears.

knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography

Did I mention we had the one of the most beautiful sunsets ever?

knoxville wedding photography
knoxville wedding photography

(This entire session was shot with my Canon 35mm f/1.4L lens.)

Have a question? Shoot me an email or leave a comment!

Thanks for looking!

John – Contact me!

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  • Atlanta Wedding & Portrait Photographer - August 24, 2010 - 1:25 pm

    Fun post. I too read Zach’s blog. Beautiful sunset indeed.ReplyCancel

  • katy gray - August 24, 2010 - 2:57 pm

    Nice session! Love the ones in the doorways of the building. Is that a church?

    You’ve inspired me to work on my off-camera flash, I’ve gotta get that dialed.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca D - August 30, 2010 - 5:03 pm

    the bomb dot com! thanks for this post…pure awesomeness.ReplyCancel

  • Eric Lagstein - September 6, 2010 - 9:24 am

    Marvelous collection of photosReplyCancel

  • Chris C - September 22, 2010 - 3:11 pm

    Stunning technique and equally amazing images. The sunsets jump off the screen, excellent images.ReplyCancel

  • Digitial SLR Camera - April 26, 2011 - 5:28 pm

    I am one of those photographers that hate using the flash and prefer natural light, but those shots you took with the flash are amazing.ReplyCancel

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